24th May 2018


This is probably the favourite of all of the quotations I have gathered over recent years “If adults don’t like their jobs they don’t go on strike. They just go in every day and do it really half-arsed” I don’t remember where I got it from and it is attributed to that great philosopher and commentator on human kind Homer Simpson. Whatever the provenance of the saying it has that ring of truth don’t you think?

A few years ago perhaps, if people were ill-treated, they would organise themselves, form a union and fight the bosses all the way for better treatment and better working conditions, and thank heaven they did. Those days are largely passed now, people are different and workplaces are different and so reactions are different. Much of commerce happens in smaller units with fewer people where mass action is much less likely. However, when we employ someone all we can ever do is to negotiate to buy 8 hours of their time every day. Whether they choose to bring their flair, their creativity, their volition and their goodwill into the work place is exactly that. It is their choice. They can just as easily choose not to and to turn up and do their jobs really half-arsed.

Given the highly competitive nature of the world today can you really afford for any of your team to be half-arsed about their job and yet The Gallup Organisation believe that as few of 22 out of every hundred workers are emotionally invested in their workplace. That means that up to 78 people are disengaged and of those 78 a proportion must be actively disengaged, which means they are present but are positively working against anything you are trying to do. Can you afford that? And what do you really believe the figures are for your team?

I believe that one of the most significant measures of a leader is the engagement level of his team and one of the greatest tools a leader has to help engagement is articulating the Core Purpose of the organisation; not only articulating it but keeping it burning bright. What a Core Purpose is is less important than what a Core Purpose does. A Core Purpose describes the significance that we as an organisation and by inference that we as individuals have in the world today. How we are changing the world for the better. It is not a strap line or a marketing slogan. It is your North Star.

If you do not have such a thing, you are condemning your people to be working without a purpose. In the absence of a compelling Core Purpose people are likely to clock on in the morning and clock off in the evening and feel that whatever they do in between is of no import whatsoever. What then does it matter if they spend those 8 hours pretending to work? Shouldn’t we all be able to see the significance of what we do for 8 hours a day?

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